Some quick notes (before I head off to Aruba…yea, be jealous) about the prospects, free agency, and those who left the Rangers.
- Brady Skjei, who by all accounts appears to be NHL ready, will be returning to the University of Minnesota for his junior year. Skjei is a first pairing defenseman with the club, and was instrumental in leading them to the inaugural B1G Championship last season. Skjei wants to win a Frozen Four before turning pro.
- Anton Stralman, who turned down a three-year, $9 million offer from the Rangers mid-year, was disappointed that the Rangers never “really” negotiated with him. That offer was rumored to be increased to four years and $4 million per year. Stralman eventually signed a five-year deal worth $4.5 million per season.
- Mats Zuccarello knows the Rangers are right up against the cap, and will work with the team to settle on a deal. However, he understands that he can’t take a pay cut either.
- Jeff Gorton is on the record saying the Rangers want another forward. I wouldn’t expect this to be a big landing, probably just a journeyman on a “show-me” deal like Benoit Pouliot’s last year.
- Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello have all filed for arbitration.
Pavel Buchnevich (2013, 3rd) was invited to Russia’s World Junior Championship tryout camp. Buchnevich was one of 29 players invited to Russia’s camp. The 18-year-old forward sustained a concussion last month, but was in the lineup today for Severstal, indicating he is good to go.
Brady Skjei was invited to the USA WJC camp, one of eight defensemen to be invited. Skjei is expected to make the club.
The Rangers do not have any prospects that were selected for Canada’s WJC camp. As far as I know, Sweden has not released their camp roster yet.
Boo Nieves (2012, 2nd) and Brady Skjei (2012, 1st) both made it to the final round of cuts for Team USA for the World Juniors. The team still needs to be cut by six forwards and four defensemen (and a goalie), so Skjei and Nieves haven’t made the roster yet. Skjei was one of the final cuts last year for the WJC team, but he has been impressive this year during the tryouts. Nieves has also been impressive despite not being invited to the tryouts last year. Both still need to play well during the final evaluation to make the roster, as neither are shoo-ins.
The 2013 draft is now in the books and the Rangers have added five more youngsters to their prospect system. Let’s take a look at where all the prospects stand heading into the offseason.
On the cusp
After bursting onto the scene during the 2012 playoffs, Kreider struggled out of the gate with the CT Whale to start the 2013 season. He joined the Rangers following the lockout, but never earned major minutes under coach John Tortorella and was frequently sent back and forth from New York to Connecticut. Still the crown jewel of the Rangers’ system, Kreider should be handed a much bigger offensive role next season under Alain Vigneault.
Miller’s quick climb up the ladder to New York was extremely impressive and though his 2012-2013 season was cut short by a wrist injury, he should also have a job to lose in September under Vigneault. Miller’s game is very much a work in progress – he was guilty of some horrible defensive mistakes and didn’t contribute much offensively, but Miller looked like he belonged in the NHL. He’s proven to be a very quick study all along and will be expected to continue his growth as a Ranger next season. Read more »
Two Ranger draft picks from 2012 are on the initial World Junior Championship evaluation camp roster. Defenseman Brady Skjei (1st) and forward Boo Nieves (2nd) were both included on the list that has 16 defensemen and 24 forwards. Last year, Skjei was one of the final defensemen cut for the 2012 WJC Tournament. It is expected that both will get a long look at this year’s evaluation camp.
No reason to panic with Skjei
Perhaps lost amid the excellent World Junior campaign played by Team USA are the struggles of Brady Skjei in his freshman year with Minnesota in the WCHA. Skjei has just two points, which both came in one game way back in October, and has been outplayed by fellow freshman Mike Reilly who – unlike Skjei – made the US world junior team that’s earned rave reviews in Russia. Of course, there’s no reason to panic for Skjei, Rangers fans or team brass this early in his development.
Skjei is learning the hard way on a strong hockey program. He’s been on the third pair (recently with Nate Schmidt) and won’t have seen significant ice time. The Rangers don’t need to worry however as Skjei wasn’t expected (or needed) to be rushed and too much can’t be expected from a first year college defenseman in most cases.
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Update: 10:10am: Ok I misunderstood what was going on. I thought the roster had been set. It has not. Miller is expected to make the team. Skjei is still on the bubble, but has impressed thus far in camp.
Original Post: This is a bit old, but J.T. Miller and Brady Skjei have both made the US team for this year’s World Junior Championships. Miller, who was on the team last year, will likely be named captain prior to the start of the tournament. This will be Skjei’s first year with the club. Skjei has already received comparisons to Ryan McDonagh, but it’s a bit early in the game to be making that sort of comparison.
Miller had a bit of a slow start with Connecticut, but has really turned it on as of late. In seven games in December, Miller has a line of 3-4-7. In his previous 18 games in October and November, Miller had a line of just 2-5-7.
Skjei isn’t lighting the lamp with Minnesota with a line of 1-1-2 in 15 games, but the fact that he made the WJC club shows where he is in terms of overall skill. Remember, point totals are misleading.
Brady Skjei is one of three NYR prospects set to open their NCAA careers this week.
With the college hockey season upon us, it’s not just the juniors and the AHL season that is giving Rangers fans reason to watch hockey. Brady Skjei made his debut for Minnesota in an exhibition game last Saturday, a game that drew over 7,000 spectators. It sounded like a promising first appearance for Skjei who played a physical game even if his passing was inconsistent.
While he is considered a two-way prospect Skjei appears in a fight for powerplay time as he wasn’t part of either PP unit during the commanding 7-0 victory over University of Lethbridge. Of course, as a rookie Skjei will have to earn the right to powerplay time and ice time in general.
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The Connecticut Whales’ preliminary roster for the upcoming AHL season exposes the lack of blueline depth the Rangers now have beyond the NHL level. The Rangers have benefited in recent times as several prospects have developed into successful, full time NHL’ers in quick succession but the lack of a legitimate NHL candidate at the pro level – beyond the currently injured Dylan McIlrath – suggests the Rangers need to look at the position in the upcoming few draft classes.
While the Rangers also have Brady Skjei and Calle Andersson in the system, there is a lack of depth coming through to follow the Staal’s and Del Zotto’s on to the New York roster. The list of names heading to the Whale camp isn’t confidence inspiring. With all due respect the majority of Sean Collins, Steven Delisle, Jyri Niemi, Blake Parlett, Logan Pyett and Mike Vernace will top out as AHL depth players and it seems – being optimistic – only Jyri Niemi can (realistically?) harbour NHL hopes.
Whoever lines up on the Whale blueline this season will face stern tests on an almost nightly basis when you look at some of the impressive names (think Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Schenn, Henrique etc) sent to respective AHL affiliates. Big league clubs such as Edmonton, New Jersey and Philadelphia have a host of top NHL talent heading to the minors and therefore the unproven, unheralded group of blueliners the Whale will likely put on the ice will know sooner rather than later whether they capable of greater things. Hopefully some of the prospects will surprise.
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Obviously we have no idea yet whether there will be a 2012/13 NHL season starting on time, a training camp or a pre-season. Hey, right now we have no idea whether there will be regular season play at all. Regardless, there are plenty of prospects in the organisation that offer legitimate intrigue. Whether they will be fighting for NHL jobs, making waves with the Connecticut Whale or sent back to junior/college there is still plenty to keep an eye on. A few intrigue me more than others.
With Tim Erixon traded, eternal patient Michael Sauer still hurt and Dylan McIlrath doing his best to provide Sauer with some company in the treatment room the Rangers defensive depth looks shakier – both short and long term – than it had done just six months ago; all this despite an envious top four at the NHL level. Enter Skjei.
Unfortunately for Skjei, the aforementioned issues at the defense position for the Rangers may mean more of a spotlight shining on the Wisconsin prospect than he may have hoped/expected. Thanks to a promising evaluation camp for Team USA this summer, many eyes will be on Skjei to see how he develops within the powerhouse Wisconsin programme.
Skjei is possibly the most important prospect in the entire organisation – assuming you take it for granted that Chris Kreider has ‘graduated’ to the Rangers full time. The Rangers need Skjei to develop well. Not just because he’s a first round pick but because the club need some defensive prospects to step up in the near future. His season will be interesting to follow.
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